The sharks' most lucrative byproduct is oil from their livers, which is exported to the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and several European countries for use in cosmetics and health supplements. WildLifeRisk discovered that Li's company actually processes its shark oil at another plant, Hainan Jiahua Marine Products Bio-Pharmaceutical Company, on China's Hainan Island. The shark fins and skins processed at Li's factory are more often sold as food for Chinese restaurants and as leather for bags, respectively. According to WildLifeRescue's undercover footage, many of the factory's shark products were being labeled as tilapia.
China does not have a ban on shark hunting, but it is illegal to hunt endangered shark species without a permit from the government. Shark hunting is banned in all other west Pacific countries with the exception of Japan, but, Hofford says, whale sharks are regularly caught in waters off the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico before they are sent to Puqi for processing. It's highly unlikely that fishermen obtain the necessary permits to conduct these shark hunts, "due to the informality of the trade and the complex transport routes," the WildLifeRisk co-founders say. They've also expressed doubt that any of the shark catches go through customs.